Whether a parent yourself, or simply a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord!
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:50-7)
Isn’t it interesting that we have to have a license to drive a car, we have to have an education, and in many cases a degree of some kind, to hold down a job, we need a license to get married, and we even get a certificate of birth and death; but there is no prerequisite for becoming a parent! We aren’t required to take parenting classes, we don’t need a certificate or a license that says we are now mature enough or knowledgeable enough, and there is no college degree that is called “Parenting”.
Yet the destiny of the next generation lies largely in the hands of parents today!
Children need guidance. That guidance should come, first and foremost, from the home. If it doesn’t, as is the case for so many of our children, the child will seek it elsewhere. Some children will go to other family members for that guidance and others will seek it from teachers and other adults in their lives. Still others will get it from their peers. Thus, if parents don’t make themselves accountable for the upbringing of their children, they are, in effect, leaving that awesome responsibility in the hands of total strangers, or even worse, in the hands of peers, who, themselves, are struggling for guidance!
And what about that child’s spiritual education? Can you trust it to a school that God has already been thrown out of? Are his or her friends well-enough grounded in the Lord to be spiritual mentors? What about scout leaders, basketball coaches, or neighbors? Do they know enough about God to be teaching your child?
Of course there are the Sunday Schools and children’s programs. I believe that I can honestly say that most of these do a wonderful job of teaching our children about the Bible-About David and Goliath, about the flood, about baby Jesus. But do they teach our children what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Do they help our kids learn to rely on Jesus with their problems, with their weaknesses, with their bad habits? Do they teach our children to fall in love with the One who fell in love with them before they were even conceived?
I would love to say the answer is “yes”, and certainly I believe that there are some excellent child and youth programs that are doing just that. But the facts speak for themselves: Studies have shown that the majority of the children in Sunday Schools do not have a personal relationship with Jesus!
Friends, as wonderful as Sunday Schools are, they are not always adequate to teach that final, most important step in Christianity! The bottom line is this: The responsibility of raising the children God has given us cannot be entrusted to schools, to neighbors, to churches, or to peers. The responsibility of raising our children, the responsibility of giving them the guidance they desperately need, lies in the home.
I realize that many of you reading this are not parents, and as a result, you will be tempted to simply write this series off. But before you stop reading, remember that most kids are NOT getting the guidance they need in their homes! Our influence over kids doesn’t stop with our own. Each one of you can have a profound influence on grandchildren, nieces and nephews, children in your classrooms and Sunday school rooms, and even your neighbor children! You may be the only one in that child’s life who can ensure he or she will grow up to know the Lord! So although this series is aimed at parents, the suggestions that will be provided are vital for every child in your life.
Whether you are parenting your own children or trying to be a positive influence in the lives of the children around you, it is an awesome responsibility.
Is it one that you feel equipped to tackle?
I certainly didn’t. 15 years ago when my oldest son was born, I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility. When asked what I wanted the most for my precious baby, the only answer that made any sense to me was that he grow up to know the Lord. I knew even then that this would only happen if I took responsibility for teaching it to him myself, but what if I went wrong? What would become of my sweet son then? Would I be held accountable to God? And so I began to pray. I prayed for wisdom, I prayed for guidance, I prayed for God to stop me from doing anything that would permanently harm my beloved child.
God answered my prayers and continues to answer them daily. My son is now 14 years old, and he has a 12 year-old brother. Neither of them are perfect kids, nor have either of them yet gone through those tough “teen-age” years; but both of my boys are well-grounded in the Lord, both of them know Jesus personally as Lord and Savior of their lives, and both actively pursue a personal relationship with God. I know it isn’t over yet, and I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But by the grace of God, I feel confident that my boys are where they need to be with the Lord at this point in their lives.
As I was sitting in church this past Sunday morning, God placed an overwhelming sadness on my heart for the children of the world. I do not wish to be critical, but the condition of the world today is evidence that most parents are not adequately grounding their children in the ways of the Lord. In some cases, parents don’t see the need in bringing their children up in the ways of the Lord. Others take their parenting responsibilities seriously, but they have simply never been to “Parenting 101”! I found myself saying, “Lord, send them someone who can teach them!”
The words were barely out of my mouth when I clearly heard the response: “I have.”
I felt immediate relief from the burden God had placed on my heart. For a whole thirty seconds. Then something started bothering me again: If God had already taken care of the problem, why had I felt such a burden in the first place? Besides, God’s responses to my burdens weren’t generally as simple as “I have”! I couldn’t stop myself from asking the fateful question: “Lord, who have you sent?”
The answer was immediate in coming: “I have sent you!”
My mouth dropped open in horror and I quickly reached up with my hand to push it closed. My boys may be good kids, but that certainly didn’t qualify me to teach others! “No, Lord,” I argued. “I have made, and continue to make terrible mistakes! Besides, my boys are still young! Who knows where they will end up in 6 years?”
I didn’t care much for the answer: “Your boys are where they are today because you have done what I told you to do. Now go and teach it to others!”
“But,” I sputtered, my face red with embarrassment: “I’m not well-enough known in this church to be starting up a parent group.”
“You are well-enough known through your Nugget subscribers to make a difference! Now go and write a mini-series on Parenting!”
An audible sigh escaped my lips as I sat back in my pew. Surely God knew how inadequate I felt. Surely God knew how little time I had. Surely God knew . . .
God obviously did know, because his response was clear: “No more excuses!”
And though I tried to continue the argument, I got no further response from God. He had made his point, and now it was up to me to obey. And that is what I will be attempting to do in this upcoming series on parenting. Over the course of the next 15 weeks, I will attempt, with God’s guidance, to share with you some of the tips for child-raising that God has taught me over the past 15 years. I can only hope and pray that this series will help to ensure that there will be a “next generation” of Christians, and that the next generation of Christians will truly know the Lord!
God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the kids in your life in the ways of the Lord!
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” devotional series, please click here.)